A family affair at The Breadwinner Bakery School
We were delighted to visit the excellent Breadwinner Bakery yesterday afternoon and meet the McVey family, who have run the business for years. They supply bread and baked goods to business all accross Edinburgh and were Edinburgh’s first ‘open plan’ bakery.
Sean McVey, The Breadwinner’s most senior Master Craftsman Baker, with a whopping 50 years of baking experience behind him leads the one-to-one masterclasses at the Bruntsfield premises but there’s a whole team of talented bakers behind the Breadwinner name.
Since we have experience in eating cake and not making it, we took along local celebrity baker Lea Harris (the only Scottish contestant on the Great British Bake Off) and watched her and Sean produce some amazing breads and a chocolate fruit strudel.
There’s no doubting the skills that Sean has in the kitchen – it’s like a professional performance watching him knead the bread to perfection. “I love what I do”, he tells us. “It’s not about making money in these classes, it’s about passing the skills I have to people in Edinburgh so the art of bread-making by hand is not lost”. We can see the kitchen is full of hi-tech machines and a Rolls Royce oven that allow Breadwinner to supply hundreds of loaves on a daily basis, but in these classes, it’s all about using your hands.
Lea picks up new tips right away as Sean’s son Kris pops in to say hello. It’s very much a family business now, but Kris is sticking to the business side. “I don’t want to bake, but love being involved with all our customers” says the former bank worker. “I feel like I’ve got the best job in the world as it just doesn’t feel like work“. Lesley McVey (Sean’s wife and Kris’ mother) also pops in to say hello and the atmosphere transforms to one akin to a family kitchen with lots of chat and banter. Other Breadwinner bakers pop in and are treated like family and are all in a hurry to declare their love for the job to us. We would love working here too!
“I don’t want the old skills to disappear”
The conversation continues to flow as Sean demonstrates to Lea how to make sourdough with Polish sausage and caramelised onion. We feel confident we’ve learnt several baking skills in a couple of hours that we could attempt a loaf ourselves.
We’re personally salivating at the mouth as the cheese, chilli and walnut sourdough bread is baking in the oven and trying not to laugh as Lea proclaims her strudel dough “looks like a string vest”.
Sean makes it look easy, but within minutes, Lea’s pastry is also “thin enough to read a newspaper through”. The juicy fruit mixture of apples and cranberries is placed on one end of the pastry and the strudel is rolled thanks to the ancient form of ‘apron rolling’. Sean says: “some of the old ways are still the best and I don’t want these skills to disappear”.
It’s not a cooking class with lots of pupils, this is one-t0-one teaching from a Master Baker who will tailor the class to your needs. £90 for a few hours and whole lot of baked goods to take home is a bargain. Book us in!